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Thread: The future of cars/boats/PWC's
12-14-2010, 08:57 PM #1
The future of cars/boats/PWC's
Hey everyone, I wrote this article because the world is making a big mistake with hybrid and electric vehicles. So please read and tell me what you think.
Biofuels vs Electric and Hybrid Vehicles
Recently in the media, there has been a lot of debate about fossil fuels and how our reserves are dwindling (despite the fact we have well over 400 years supply). There has also been a lot of debate about our alternatives to power our boats and cars etc. The most viable candidates are vehicles that are powered by electricity through on-board batteries, powered by Biofuels (fuels made from organic matter, mostly plants and waste) and those with Batteries and regular petrol or biofuels called hybrids. So which is the best solution?
Electric vehicles are the ones receiving the most media attention at the moment, mostly because the vehicles do not emit anything themselves, but you have to remember where you get your electricity from, not all electricity is a clean magical thing, most of it in the USA and Australia is produced by coal-fired power plants which are extremely pollutive. This same rule applies to biofuels, it all depends on where you source the fuels from just like electricity. If you source your electricity from renewable energy sources like wind power and solar you do not emit anything. If you use arable land to grow plants for your fuels, you could be taking away valuable food crops but on the other hand if you produce fuels from waste or crops grown on un-arable land then you don’t take away from food production.
Whilst electricity and biofuels are a renewable resource, the batteries in hybrid and electric vehicles contain many rare minerals that are not renewable or recyclable. Have you ever noticed that your phone or laptop battery seems to be getting worse and worse every year? Capacity loss happens to every single battery on the market due to chemical reactions within the battery; even the most advanced batteries still suffer from this problem.
This is basically like ‘rust’ to a battery; it increases friction between the battery materials which inhibit the flow of electricity which reduces performance and capacity irreversibly. Since the batteries after 3-5 years have done the equivalent of almost completely rusting, only a small amount of the battery can be recycled, which makes it an unsustainable alternative, especially when current electric and hybrid vehicle batteries use rare minerals such as Lithium and Nickel and many other much rarer and less known minerals such as lanthanum and neodymium. Neodymium is a magnetic metal that is used in the electric motors of the Toyota Prius (a hybrid car). One Prius requires only 1kg of neodymium but yet Toyota is using 65% of the annual production of this metal just for the one model. There are about 750 million cars in the world today, and using current battery technology, if we replaced all those cars with electric cars that had less than 300kms of range we would use 300 billion kilograms (300 million tonnes) of batteries alone, not to mention all the other minerals required. Sustainable and eco-friendly? I think not.
Now back to the batteries, after the battery has ‘rusted’ in 3-5 years you would have to buy a new one for $40,000+ (that is the cost of a battery for a car with a 300km range) so you can see that electric cars do not save you any money, but instead cost you more unless you spend $10,000 a year in fuel for the one car, which is highly unlikely because my family owns a Toyota Rav4, a Twin Turbo V8 diesel Toyota Landcruiser, a Yamaha WaveRunner and a 5.6m boat, and it costs us about $5-7,000 a year to fuel all of these and believe me they get used a lot and not to mention the higher price of a hybrid/electric vehicle in the first place.
Because of rare minerals being used, it is likely to see the price of hybrid and electric vehicles rise even more in the future as our reserves for these rare minerals dwindle and more companies introduce hybrid and electric models to their ranges. The main components of the combustion engine are recyclable as they do not suffer from the battery ‘rusting’ problem and are made of much more common materials such as aluminium, iron and steel.
Biofuels on the other hand are completely renewable and sustainable and create jobs! The two best biofuels are ethanol or biopetrol, as a replacement for petrol, and biodiesel, which is a replacement for diesel. Ethanol in Australia is currently produced from waste and the by-products of sugar production, but can be produced from almost everything, from waste to weeds.
Ethanol is a very high octane fuel, around 129 RON (premium petrol is 95 RON), which burns cleaner, cooler and produces more power which is why they use it as a fuel for the V8 supercars. It also cleans your engine and fuel systems as well, which is why you get sooty deposits in older cars when they use E10 fuel (regular petrol with 10% ethanol). Not only does it have all these performance benefits but it has many more environmental ones. Ethanol is bio-degradable and miscible with water, so if you happen to spill some in water, it will completely dissolve into the water and will not harm any marine life. Ethanol is an alcohol so in small amounts it will not harm any animals or humans. Even better, regular petrol engines can be converted to ethanol by the manufacturers for as little as $40 per car which makes a lot of sense when considering that ethanol is currently cheaper than petrol.
Biopetrol or biogasoline is a better alternative to ethanol because it can be used in cars today right now. The main way to make biopetrol/gasoline is via the Fischer-Tropsch process. This involves using natural gas or gasifying plants etc and turning them into liquids. Because you use the whole plant with this method instead of only small parts of the plant, like with ethanol, this way uses much less amounts of plants and therefore less land area may be more sustainable in the long run. In South Africa there are large commercialized plants that make petroleum products this way and they have been doing so since the 1950’s. Due to the rise in oil prices this is a cost competitive alternative.
When you say the word diesel, people think of big trucks spewing black smoke and soot from the exhaust pipes. This is not a good image for diesel as diesel engines are basically as clean as petrol engines. While diesel engines spew a small amount of black smoke when the throttle is slammed open, with biodiesel, this will be a thing of the past. Biodiesel is basically refined vegetable oil which can be used in almost every modern diesel engine. Biodiesel, like ethanol, can be produced from almost everything that grows and waste vegetable oil. Because of biodiesel’s different properties compared to regular diesel, it is better for your engine and in some cases can increase range because of its better lubricity. Not only is it compatible with regular diesel engines it is also around the same cost as regular diesel (in some places it is cheaper). Biodiesel is also bio-degradable as it is basically chemically altered vegetable oil.
Then there is the infrastructure problem. With electric cars, we would have to build an entire new system for charging, the batteries etc but with biofuels we already have an entire industry devoted to the combustion engine. We already have the required infrastructure for the combustion engines from mechanics to engine rebuilds to parts, it’s all there.
Not only are biofuels are the cheaper, smarter alternative, they also are much more convenient. What are you going to do if you run out of electricity kilometers away from a power outlet? Are you going to just carry a tank of electricity? What happens if you need to get somewhere really quick or travel long distances?
As you can see electric and hybrid vehicles are nothing but media hype. Just because electric vehicles emit nothing themselves and hybrid vehicles emit less, doesn’t mean they are ‘eco-friendly’ and it doesn’t mean they don’t use any rare and unsustainable materials. Electric and hybrid vehicles will always be a minority. Simply put, if you want an affordable and eco-friendly method of transportation, buy one with a straight internal combustion engine and try and fill up with a biofuel/biofuel blend and don’t bother with the unsustainable, costly and performance lacking hybrid/electric vehicle.
Thank you for reading.
12-15-2010, 01:16 AM #2
Great points and facts! Jmo no electric or ethonal! Battery technology better than it use to be but still sucks then ethonal takes away from the planets food supply which also sucks! Funny the people pushing this technolgy also complain about the polution of the enviroment and the lack of food for the world population go figure!
12-15-2010, 01:48 AM #3
12-15-2010, 01:49 AM #4
Batteries, will never be a main form of propulsion, no matter how much it advances, it will never be able to compete with the internal combustion engine.
12-15-2010, 06:37 PM #5
if you have a diesel you can go to your local fast food place and fill up for free LOL...
12-15-2010, 07:58 PM #6
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i think neither. I think hydrogen is the answer to are problems. its just going to take sometime to work out a system that can produce enough and distribution. most people will argue that it takes fosil fuels to produce hydrogen but i can be done with electricity as well. So solar, wind, nuclear power can be used to create hydrogen.
i don't believe ethenal is a viable alternative because it still emits co2. battery power has a lot of problems as well. A we have a finite amount of resources to make them and they are sucking them up very fast. The battery are expensive and dont last long. that plant that produces nickle for the battery pours a ton of pollution out. They have long charge times and short range.
i think it will be great to get off of crude though. It saves it for stuff like classic cars. I think in the end it wont just be one type of car but many.
i will say im super stoked about the new honda clarity. i know gm isnt far behind either.
12-15-2010, 08:28 PM #7
Ethanol does emit Co2 but this is reabsorbed by the plants used to make it, there has been research done that suggests plants grow faster with more Co2 in the air. Ethanol also reduces the amount of waste produced because here in Australia we produce all our ethanol from waste produced by sugar cane production unlike corn in the U.S, which quite frankly is a horrible way of producing ethanol as it is energy intensive and takes away from food production.
But I do thank you for contributing and I do believe that hydrogen is a much better solution to electric and hybrid vehicles.
Thank you for reading everyone
12-15-2010, 08:30 PM #8
12-15-2010, 08:46 PM #9
12-15-2010, 08:47 PM #10
Alright who voted yes? Surely you did that to stand out from the rest of the crowd hahaah
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